04 September 2007

So the banner was stupid, but the writer is kind of funny

The choicest bits:
6. The roughest thing about college football season on the West Coast? The taunting text messages I start receiving at 6 a.m. from people in earlier time zones. My phone is just far enough from the bed that I don't want to get up and turn it completely off. Worst of all, many of the messages are about Tim Tebow. Then at 7:45 a.m., my law school friend Torry, a Berkeley grad, calls to talk trash. Torry spent three years defending Pac-10 football with every fiber of his being. "We're going to beat you," he says, "and then I'm going to remind you how much more fun stuff there is to do in California than just football." I tell him about my banner and how it's going to intimidate him so much, he's not going to want to enter the stadium.

8. Because the Bay Bridge is closed, I take the BART train over to Berkeley. The BART is filled with Vols fans. I end up sitting next to an Asian 20-something for a 30-minute ride under the bay. He tells me that he goes to Cal-Berkeley when I ask how long the ride is. This is our entire conversation after that: Asian man: "Why are you going to Berkeley?" Me: "For a football game." Asian man: "Oh, there's a game today?" Me: "Yeah." Asian man: "Are you rooting for Cal?" Evidently I am not wearing enough orange. My dad is going to be so disappointed.

9. More UT fans swarm the train and immediately start talking about earthquakes as we prepare to go underneath the Bay and emerge in Oakland, "What we need to do for the next 10 minutes is pray for no earthquakes," everyone around this man nervously laughs. My Asian seatmate is unfazed by our imminent death by drowning after the earthquake, "You came all the way from Tennessee for a football game?" he asks.

18. I sit down beside the bear statute for a while and meet two older Berkeley alums who are passing away the pre-game hours by reading the New Yorker. "We used to come here when you could walk in and have your own section of the stadium all to yourself," the wife says. "That was before Tedford," says the husband. Last year, Cal shared a Pac-10 title for the first time since 1975. Cal has not won a Pac-10 title outright since 1958. So it's hard to exaggerate what Tedford has meant to the program.

27. I ask Mohamed what he considers Cal's strongest selling points to be. "Education and diversity," he says. "Go to the parking lot at USC, all the kids have nicer cars than you or I do. They call it the University for Spoiled Children; it's a private school. Here we bring kids from all over the place and show them a new environment ... we don't isolate our athletes either. Freshman year, two athletes room with two regular students in the dorms and they see what college is all about. Our athletic director, Sandy Barber, has a slogan, and it's not a complete sentence, but it makes sense, 'Athletics done right.'"

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